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Pakistan’s Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sartaj Aziz met with the Indian Minister for External Affairs, Salman Khurshid, today, on the sidelines of the ARF meeting in Brunei. This was the first high level bilateral contact between the two countries after the newly elected government of Pakistan took office. The meeting was held in a warm and cordial atmosphere and discussions focused on building better relations between the two countries. The Indian EAM conveyed greetings from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and expressed his government’s desire to engage with Pakistan on all issues and work improving bilateral relations.

Reciprocating the warm sentiments of the Indian EAM, the Advisor informed him that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was giving priority at improved relations with India by picking up the threads from the Lahore process of 1999. He felt that in order to ensure lasting peace and security in the region it was necessary to discuss all outstanding issues and confidence building proposals. Trade and economic cooperation between the two countries could act as a catalyst and raise the confidence level on both sides that would allow a sustained peace process. In this regard, the Advisor appreciated the recent visit of the Indian energy mission to Pakistan in which trade in electricity and gas was discussed. Both Ministers discussed steps that further were needed in this regard. They also agreed that the Pakistan-India Joint Business Council meeting which had just concluded its session in Islamabad on 29 June was another important mechanism that would help in taking the process forward.

Referring to the positive outcome of the ARF meeting, both leaders were of the view that regional cooperation would give an impetus to the economic development and prosperity of South and South-East Asia. Decisions taken at the ARF should be translated into action soon.

Both expressed the hope that the bilateral dialogue process also between Pakistan and India would be resumed with holding of different meetings in next few months.

02 July 2013

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